The new ALTAIR from Auralic is a pretty sandwich consisting of elements from both its Aries music streamer and VEGA digital decoder. With price points reining in at $1,600 and $3,500 respectively (and $5,100 collectively), the $1,899 price tag of the new “Do Everything” seems a rather appealing offer.
According to Auralic’s Xuanqian Wang, the ALTAIR is intended to be more of a mainstream market product that enables a simpler all-in-one-box solution for keeping your computer away from your home stereo. It is still controlled by Auralic’s custom iOS application and can even curate a playlist from multiple sources, as long as they are all connected to the ALTAIR in some fashion or another (this includes streaming services). That makes for a great opportunity to listen your favorite owned tracks while still offering the option to fill in the gaps in your collection from all-you-can-eat music buffets.
The ALTAIR also marks the first time a full-size Auralic component will be offered in black and the standard silver finish at launch. Tech specs for the device run together with some fairly spicy hifi wants including femto clock, Quad DSD/Tidal/Roon compatibility and a souped up power supply.
More details from the press release:
- Femto Master Clock
The dual-frequency Femto Master Clock inside the ALTAIR is specially designed and optimized for its ESS Sabre DAC chip: with one frequency for playing music with a sampling rate which is the multiple of 44.1K, and a second for 48K, making it possible for the ALTAIR to be able to lock on with highest clock precision (equal to the VEGA’s “EXACT” mode) at all time without dropouts. The Femto Master Clock, which is powered by a 9uV extremely low noise dedicated power supply, has a very low phase noise performance. It not only has dramatically low phase noise, which is only at -151dBc/Hz level, but also an excellent 100Hz offset noise level which is only -115dBc/Hz. Driven by such a high performance clock, the ALTAIR can bring you vivid music with natural detail and a solid sound image.
- Linear Power Supply
With more and more DACs at this price range starting to use switching power supplies, AURALiC insists on using high performance but costly Purer-Power™ linear power supply technology on the ALTAIR. With this technology, the dirty AC power firstly goes into a power purification module, and the DC current and noise from both within and outside audio frequencies can be reduced by as much as 90dB. The purified AC power is then feed to a high quality transformer, with a specialty iron core made to AURALiC’s specifications, and unique wiring to ensure zero vibration and very low noise to avoid impacting the sensitive audio electrical circuit.
All this and the capability to connect to a massive 15 input options (including streaming services). Users can even install an internal hard drive inside the device in the case that a USB drive connected to the USB port in the rear is too much of a hassle or wire mess.
It looks as though some serious thought has gone into the new mainstream product in an effort to bring down some of the big guns into the sub $2k category. Wang insists that the new streamer/bridge/DAC is not intended as a replacement for the company’s trusty VEGA, or Taurus II head amp however. Substantial gains in SQ are still promised from these standby/standup products and current owners can still attach either directly to the ALTAIR (or in a chain if you have both) in order to gain more physical distance from a computer (or stream) source. That being said, in a pinch the ALTAIR does include a built in headphone jack on the front panel should you be so inclined.
The Auralic room on the third floor at AXPONA was plenty fired up in partnership with a pair of Ryan 630 loudspeakers ($5k) driven by Auralic’s own 400W (into 4 ohms) Merek Monos ($5k/pair) and in case you were wondering, yes… the ALTAIR can act as a pre amp as well.